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Signs you're stuck in a dead-end job


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Do the dividers of your cubicle seem to be closing in on you? Is that awful sound coming from your office actually your career gasping for breath? Does work seem to drone on, week after week, with each day the same as the last?

If so, you may be experiencing what Sander Marcus, Ph.D., a professional career counselor with Friedland & Marcus in Chicago, calls "Career Depression Syndrome."

Career Depression Syndrome, or discouragement or unhappiness in your job, could stem from high stress levels at work, job burnout or a turbulent job market. Read through this list to see if you recognize yourself in these situations and to find out if you could be at risk for Career Depression Syndrome.

1. Overload: When people leave your company, instead of being replaced, are the remaining employees expected to pick up the slack and work two jobs for the price of one? Doing double-duty temporarily until the department is reorganized or a replacement is hired is fine. However, you cannot continue like this for long.

2. Unsung hero: Are your extra hours and "go the extra mile for the client" attitude unrecognized or unrewarded? If so, you need to start making some noise about your accomplishments. "Sometimes, you can't just do your best," Dr. Marcus advises. "You have to let people know you're doing your best. Show how your actions positively impact the company."

3. Out of the loop: Has a change in management left you out in the cold? Heed the signs. This could bring your career to a screeching halt or worse, signal the end of your job. "Always keep an updated list of accomplishments ready," Dr. Marcus says. "This information may help influence your new boss, or it makes it easier to update your resume if you think your job is in jeopardy."

4. Looming dread: Do you dread getting out of bed in the morning because it means you have to face another day at work? Is your weekend cut short because Sunday is spent dreading Monday and the return to grind? Then it's time to rejuvenate your interest in your job. Set some new goals for yourself and stick to attaining them.

5. Is this all there is? Do you find your productivity slipping and that you lack a general interest in your job? It could mean it's time for some career enrichment. "Take courses, seminars. Find out what's new in your industry. These are necessary moves to keep you interested and from becoming obsolete," Dr. Marcus warns.

6. Temper, temper: Do you find minor challenges either at work or at home touch you off more often? Then it's time for an attitude adjustment. "Don't ever lose your professionalism even if you are being treated poorly," Marcus says. It's never a good idea to burn bridges.

7. Alienation: Do you no longer feel like investing emotionally in your co-workers? If you start daydreaming when your co-worker tells you the funny thing her cats did last night, or if the extent of your participation in lunchroom conversations is, "Uh-huh," in your mind you may already have one foot out the door.

  • If you've answered, "Yes," to five or more of these questions, your job is most definitely at a dead end and you are at risk for Career Depression Syndrome. It's time to look at the "big picture" of where your career is headed and map out a strategy to get you where you really want to go.
  • If you see yourself in three to four of the situations described, your career is definitely on cruise control. You need to revisit your career plan and get yourself back on the right path.
  • If only one or two of these scenarios look familiar, you're probably OK, but keep an eye out for the symptoms which can lead your career down a dead end.

  • © Copyright 2005. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority
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